Like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, COVID-19 is believed to originate from bats.
A new study published last week suggests climate change was the mechanism to allow the virus to mutate to be able to be transmitted to humans.
The study published in the journal “Science of the Total Environment” found that habitats in southern China allowed for a diverse bat population to develop.
This region of China has changed its vegetation over the last century due to effects of climate change, according to the study.
Researchers analyzed vegetation and bat data from the early 20th century and compared that to the present to find upwards of 40 different species of bats may have moved into the region, bringing around 100 new coronavirus types to the area.
Most bats carry about three coronaviruses, the majority of which cannot impact humans.
But if enough of the different viruses intermingle and mutate, they can be transmitted to humans, like with COVID-19, SARS, and MERS before it.
Southern China isn’t the only place impacted by climate change.
Parts of Central Africa and Central and South America have also seen an increase in new bat populations.
The researchers echo the calls of other studies asking for economic recovery efforts to include addressing climate change.